Metabolic Syndrome: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Metabolic Syndrome: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Metabolic syndrome involves having at least 3 out of 5 health conditions that increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. It can cause other complications as well. Each condition is treatable with lifestyle changes and/or medication.

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of conditions—high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels—increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It’s a result of lifestyle factors like inactivity, poor diet, and genetics. Detecting it early is vital. Lifestyle changes—healthy eating, regular exercise, and weight management—can prevent or manage it. Regular check-ups help monitor blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Understanding and addressing Metabolic Syndrome proactively improves overall health and reduces the risk of serious complications, empowering individuals to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Other names for metabolic syndrome include:

  • Syndrome X
  • Insulin resistance syndrome
  • Obesity syndrome
  • Dysmetabolic syndrome

Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome

A person meets the criteria for metabolic syndrome if they have at least three of the following:

1. Excess abdominal weight: A waist circumference of more than 40 inches in men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) and 35 inches in women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB).

2. Hypertriglyceridemia: Triglyceride levels that are 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or greater.

3. Low levels of HDL cholesterol: HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL in men and people AMAB or less than 50 mg/dL in women and people AFAB.

4. Elevated blood sugar levels: Fasting blood sugar level of 100 mg/dL or greater. If it’s 100 to 125 mg/dL, you have prediabetes. If it’s over 125 mg/dL, you likely have Type 2 diabetes.

5. High blood pressure: Blood pressure values of systolic 130 mmHg or higher (the top number) and/or diastolic 85 mmHg or higher (the bottom number).

Each of these factors on its own raises your chances of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and stroke. However, if you have three or more of these conditions, your risk goes up even more. Think of a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome as a signal to take action and make positive changes to your health to reduce your risk.

Types of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome encompasses various health conditions. Key types include:

  • Central Obesity: Excess fat around the waist.
  • High Blood Pressure: Elevated pressure in arteries.
  • High Blood Sugar: Increased glucose levels.
  • Abnormal Cholesterol: Imbalanced levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol.
  • Insulin Resistance: The body’s inefficient use of insulin.
  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Fat accumulation in the liver.
  • Inflammation: Persistent, low-grade inflammation.

These factors collectively heighten the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Lifestyle changes like exercise, a balanced diet, and managing stress can help mitigate these risks. Consultation with a healthcare professional is vital for diagnosis and tailored management plans.

How Common is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome affects around 1 in 3 adults in the US, rising due to sedentary lifestyles and poor diets. It’s a cluster of conditions, like high blood pressure and excess belly fat, linked to heart disease. Small changes in diet, exercise, and regular check-ups can manage and prevent its impact.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome?

Not everyone with metabolic syndrome experiences symptoms, and the symptoms you may have depend on the specific conditions you’re dealing with. For instance, conditions like high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol typically don’t show noticeable symptoms.

High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can cause symptoms for some people, like:

  • Darkened skin in your armpits or the back and sides of your neck (acanthosis nigricans)
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Increased urination, especially at night
  • Fatigue

See a healthcare provider if you have these symptoms.

What Causes Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome results from a blend of factors, including:

  • Obesity: Excess weight, particularly around the abdomen.
  • Insulin Resistance: Cells struggle to use insulin properly, impacting blood sugar control.
  • Genetics: Family history might increase susceptibility.
  • Unhealthy Lifestyle: Sedentary habits and poor dietary choices contribute.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Issues with hormones like leptin can affect metabolism.
  • Age & Ethnicity: Aging increases risk, and certain ethnicities face higher susceptibility.
  • Other Conditions: Conditions like fatty liver disease can play a role.
  • Stress and sleep: Both can impact metabolism and contribute to the syndrome’s development.

Metabolic Syndrome Treatment

Diagnosis and Tests

How is Metabolic Syndrome Diagnosed?

A functional medicine doctor will do a physical exam and order blood tests if they think you might be at risk for or have metabolic syndrome. They’ll check your blood pressure and may measure the circumference around your waist.

They’ll order blood tests, like:

  • Lipid panel: This test looks at four types of cholesterol and measures your triglyceride levels.
  • Basic metabolic panel (BMP): This measures eight different substances in your blood, providing a comprehensive overview of your health.
  • Fasting glucose test: A BMP includes a blood glucose reading, but if you didn’t fast for the BMP, your provider may have you get a blood test that checks your blood sugar after fasting for eight to 12 hours.

If you have at least three of the five criteria based on the results of these tests and the exam, you’ll have metabolic syndrome.

These blood tests are typically routine. So, physicians at Restoration Healthcare may tell you that you have metabolic syndrome (or are at risk for certain health conditions) after routine tests.

Treatments for Managing Metabolic Syndrome

Treating and preventing metabolic syndrome are very similar in many ways. Both focus on keeping active and making smart food choices. As a bonus, practicing a healthy lifestyle is beneficial to your overall health and is the best way for metabolic syndrome treatment!

1. Exercise: Keeping active is a great way to address multiple metabolic risk factors. Regular exercise will decrease your stress levels, and your risk for heart disease, help keep your blood cholesterol and sugar in check, and help you lose weight.

2. Diet: Choose a diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats, and avoid fatty or processed foods. Watching your sodium intake will help keep your blood pressure within normal bounds.

3. Weight management: You can reduce your blood pressure and insulin resistance by dropping weight. You can also improve your HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and reduce your LDL (“bad”) levels.

4. Reduce stress: Stress is normal in everyday life, but unmanaged stress can negatively impact your blood pressure. Stress can also affect your overall happiness. Engaging in a favorite hobby, taking time out of your day to meditate, exercising, or just talking to friends or family are all great ways of reducing your stress levels.

5. Smoking cessation: Smoking is a major contributor to the risk of heart disease and heart attack. Quitting will help reduce these risk factors, plus many other long-term benefits.

6. Medication: For some people, lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to lower risk factors for metabolic syndrome. In these cases, a doctor may prescribe medication: for instance, prescribing medication to lower blood sugar or blood cholesterol. It’s important to take your medication as prescribed and not skip any doses for optimal effect.

7. Empowering wellness: Patient education and a multidisciplinary approach is vital for effectively managing metabolic dysfunction, and diseases and improving overall well-being.

Metabolic Disorder Treatment in Irvine, California

Restoration Healthcare’s approach combines medical expertise with lifestyle interventions, including personalized dietary guidance, exercise plans, and weight management strategies. By addressing the underlying causes and symptoms of metabolic diseases, we aim to improve our patient’s overall well-being and reduce their risk of associated complications.

If you are experiencing signs of metabolic syndrome or have concerns about metabolic disorders, we encourage you to reach out to our dedicated and experienced doctors at Restoration Healthcare in Irvine, CA, at (949) 523-1987. Use our convenient online appointment request form to schedule your appointment with a specialist today.